Home(work) for the Holidays

It may seem like an odd thing to do, but at the end of a project I often suggest specific resources for clients to study, on the (perhaps misguided) belief that an educated client is a happy client. This homework, so to speak, often takes the form of reading material, especially research articles that highlight a problem similar to the one the client is trying to solve or that cover families in the same geographic area.

These suggestions are drawn from material that I’ve found particularly helpful, and I’m constantly looking for new articles or studying ones with which I’m already familiar in the hopes of refining my own understanding of research techniques and strategies.

My reading material for this holiday season, when I’m supposed to be on vacation (ha ha), is drawn from the latest issues of genealogical journals to which I subscribe (such as The American Genealogist or TAG and The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, aka The Register, as well as state and regional quarterlies), but also includes a review of older published material.

For instance, one of my favorite periodicals is the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, which is one benefit of membership in the National Genealogical Society. The NGS’ web site contains back issues of the NGSQ dating from the late 1970s to the present. These back issues are a treasure trove for researchers, and I mine them frequently looking for articles that might help me solve a particular research problem.

I’m also in the habit of reading all articles by a particular author, or as many as I can get my hands on. One of my favorites is GeLee (sometimes Ge Lee) Corley Hendrix, who is now deceased. Fortunately, Mrs. Hendrix was a somewhat prolific writer, and because of this her work is still available for other researchers to use.1 I particularly like her articles because they deal with problem areas for Southern researchers, like “burned” counties and South Carolina, which is in a category all on its own. If you’re interested in reading these yourself, here are the articles she wrote to which I have ready access:

  • “John Simmons of Orangeburg Township, South Carolina, 1735 – 1759,” NGSQ 73 (September 1985): 172 – 178.
  • “The First Settlers on the North Fork of the Edisto River, S.C.,” NGSQ 73 (September 1985): 179 – 206.
  • “Genealogical Research in South Carolina,” NGSQ 75 (December 1987): 249 – 270.
  • “Backtracking through Burned Counties: Bonds of Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and the Carolinas,” NGSQ 78 (June 1990): 98 – 114.
  • “John Bond vs. John Bond: Sorting Identities via Neighborhood Reconstruction,” NGSQ 79 (December 1991): 268 – 282.
  • “Going Beyond the Database–Interpretation, Amplication, and Development of Evidence: South Carolina’s COM Index and Several James Kelleys,” NGSQ 86 (June 1998): 116 – 133.
  • “Benjamin Hendrick (1730 – 1818) of Virginia and Carolina and Some of His Descendants: Research in Burned Counties,” TAG 65 (January 1990): 44 – 53.

Notice the third article in the list “Genealogical Research in South Carolina,” required reading for anyone with South Carolina ancestors.

What reading are y’all doing over the holidays?

* * * * *

1. If you’re looking for a reason to publish, here’s reason number one: Some day, you will be gone, but your hard work can be preserved through publication.


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